Sons of the Revolution

Sometime in the late 1950’s an idea came to one of the functionaries of the Egyptian government to offer special birthday celebrations to those boys born on July 23 1952.  Those “Sons of the Revolution” were special indeed. It is not clear where the idea came from, perhaps the author read something about the “New Man” of Marxism, or perhaps he was just trying to get in the good graces of Nasser and his coterie. The events were celebrated for nearly a decade. In the early 1960’s they reflected Egypt’s fading cosmopolitan air and the remnants of prosperity not killed off by Nasser’s “Arab Socialism” and bungled central state planning. But as the years wore on the celebrations took on a decidedly shabby air. The last such event, to this author’s knowledge, took place in July 1967.  It was a heart-breaking affair at the Rivoli cinema. Outside the  doors lay bags of sand that had been placed there in early June, prior to the war. The bags had begun to rot and sand piled up in forlorn puddles. Someone had started to build a blast wall of bricks, but must have just given up or run out of bricks, so all that was left was a waist-high wall of irregular bricks and protruding mortar.  It all seemed like an apt metaphor for a country once promised greatness but ruled by ineptitude. The boys of 1967, barely into their teens then, are men now, most nearing their retirement. It must be heart breaking for them to contemplate the ruin that the 1952 “revolution” made of their lives and their country.

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